In Vatican Monday of October 10, 2022, the Vaticanist Andrea Gagliarducci points out a fact that went unnoticed by the mainstream press. During the Sunday Angelus on October 2, the Pope decided to suppress, for the second time in his pontificate, the spiritual commentary on the Gospel, which is a sign that, for the Pope, discussing current events comes before preaching, when things become critical.
And one has to wonder if Francis’s pontificate is not first and foremost a political pontificate. Indeed, on October 2, Francis preferred to speak about the situation in Ukraine rather than comment on the Gospel, as he did in 2013 regarding Syria. However, “Pope Francis has always called for an outgoing, missionary, non-self-referential Church.”
“He has repeatedly stressed the importance of starting over from the Gospel, giving out small Gospel books at the end of the Angelus, and asking everyone to read a passage daily.”
However, notes the Italian journalist, “to Pope Francis, sometimes the political aspect seems to come before the religious one. In general, political decisions were presented from spiritual facts. But, in the name of a certain concreteness, Pope Francis puts the concrete fact first of all, faithful to the principle that ‘realities are greater than ideas,’ already outlined in Evangelii gaudium .”
And he recalls: “The Pope, however, becomes really concrete when he enters the public debate. By his admission, Laudato si’  was born from an external solicitation to have the Church produce a document on the subject to the 2015 Paris climate summit.”
This political priority is even clearer in the choice of the two recent trips to Kazakhstan and Bahrain. In La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana of October 8, Stefano Chiappalone states it bluntly: “Pope Francis’s apostolic trip to Bahrain seems to echo the recent trip to Kazakhstan.”
“At the center of the two visits: dialogue and coexistence, the pontiff assuming the role of speaker in the congresses, with the risk of conveying (regardless of his subjective intentions) a message that is more relativist than apostolic.”
From Abu Dhabi to Bahrain via Kazakhstan
The Italian journalist recalls that “apostolic journeys generally have – as their name indicates – an apostolic objective: wherever he goes, the pope will fulfill his mandate to “proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15) and – specific task of the successor of Peter – to “confirm the brothers in the faith” (Lk 22:32).”
And he notes that “some of Pope Francis’s recent trips seem to fit into a different role, with different objectives. Take Assisi, for example, where he went on September 24 for the event entitled Economy of Francis (we do not know if it is the saint of Assisi or the Holy Father or both at the same time), centered on the reading and signing of an economic pact for young people with the Pope, inspired above all by the encyclical Laudato si' and the usual buzz words: “decent work,” “fight against pollution,” “no to the culture of waste,” etc.
“An unusual visit for a pontiff, because the economic theme was not only predominant, but unique. A moment of prayer was totally absent from the program.”
Similarly, “the trips to Kazakhstan and Bahrain are explicitly inspired by the Abu Dhabi program. In both cases, there is an immediate reference to the document “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” signed by Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in 2019.
“The Pope's visit to Bahrain is a continuation of the journey already begun in Abu Dhabi,” said Msgr. Paul Hinder, former Vicar Apostolic of South Arabia. A document which is however not without controversy, in particular for the passage on the plurality of religions, the fruit of a “wise divine will.” On this subject, see the declaration of the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X of February 24, 2019:
“The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, is nothing but a house built on sand. It is furthermore an impious gesture that scorns the First Commandment of God and attributes to the Divine Wisdom, incarnate in Jesus Christ who died for us on the Cross, the statement that ‘the pluralism and the diversity of religions’ is ‘willed by God in His wisdom.’”
“Such talk is opposed to the dogma that declares that the Catholic religion is the one true religion (cf. Syllabus of Errors, proposition 21). When something is a dogma, anything opposed to it is called heresy. God cannot contradict Himself.”
In conclusion, Stefano Chiappalone underlines an “aspect that allows us to understand the importance given to these trips (recent and planned)”: “because of his difficulties in walking, the Holy Father had to gradually ‘reduce the load’: for example, he gave up his trip to the Congo last July, and even in St. Peter’s, he generally limits himself to presiding over the ceremonies, without being able to celebrate them entirely.”
“Therefore, attending these international conferences, despite his health difficulties, is obviously considered a priority. It is then permissible to express a certain respectful perplexity, pro opportunitate, on the risk inherent in this type of event, namely that - as has already happened and regardless of intentions - the vast majority will end up seeing the dialogue without the mission [of conversion] and understands only one thing: in the end, one religion is as good as the other.”